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If you’ve read past work on this situation, where I’ve sited points from Canadian radio or other articles around the blogosphere, you would know that the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes keeps going.
Late last night, via twitter, conversations came up that Kovalchuck and the Thrashers have hit a point in contract talks with most speculating the drama will conclude by week’s end. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN stated in an article on Saturday that the new year would have some critical news in the Kovalchuck endeavors. Well, all signs are pointing to LeBrun’s speculation as accurate.
Supposedly Kovalchuk will sign a deal with the Thrashers worth between 8 million and 11 million per year in the range of a 10-12 years. This signing would be great news for the Thrashers organization and bad news for 29 other teams that hoping to acquire the Russian sniper with a tempting package.
Kovalchuck’s agent Jay Grossman and Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell met this weekend during the World Junior Hockey Championships and with the team presenting a deal to Grossman. Now the decision rests on Kovalchuk’s shoulders. Does he want to stay in Atlanta, a place he publicly stated he loves? Do his his fears of relocation trump this supposed love affair?
There are still other scenarios however.
As Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reports left wing turned right wing Alexander Semin signed a one year extension worth six million dollars. Definitely a smart move to lock up a player the caliber of this young man.
Semin receives a slight raise from his reasonable five million dollar salary while avoiding either an arbitration hearing or offer sheet temptation. The 25-year-old certainly put the production up to deserve a raise, arguably even into the 7 million dollar range. In his last 91 games the native of Krasjonarsk posted 111 points, well over a PPG range.
What does this mean for Semin?
Earlier in the week there was speculation on Semin, amongst others, moving to Atlanta in a swap for Ilya Kovalchuk. Although this deal seems incredibly far-fetched and unlikely, signing Semin to an extension would make him more attractive to a team receiving him.
If you listened to the Team 1040 AM stream like I did, you would know new rumors around Ilya Kovalchuk continue to spread like wildfire.
The newest and latest rumors discussed are the Washington Capitals as front runners in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes. Interestingly enough, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period says as much as Kovalchuk loves Atlanta, there are bigger issues there in hindsight.
Going back to the 1040 AM discussion, Washington as an organization boasts numerous movable assets. Since the permanent Michael Nylander demotion, a fair amount of open cap space opened up for the club so perhaps they have both the room and assets necessary to acquire the services of Kovalchuk.
Naturally the centerpeice would have to be either Alexander Semin or Nicklas Backstrom along with another player like Eric Fehr. Kovalchuk should claim a bounty larger than that of former teammate Marian Hossa, so there would need to be work on both sides.
The latest live chat by Mike Heika’s Stars Blog reveals interest in Marty Turco by one team that desperately needs help between the pipes: the Philadelphia Flyers. Turco, an impending free-agent and life-long Star, certainly would seem different outside a Dallas uniform.
As rumors swirl around a possible Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux for Ilya Kovalchuk swap, this reporter feels the Flyers really need to address their goaltending situation. As successful as the team has been over the years, their one downfall has always been a weak goalie. Forcing a star player, and most likely rental, to adapt in a couple of months while gutting part of the core to do so.
This year the Flyers play between the pipes struggled mightily. Between Brian Boucher, Ray Emery and now Michael Leighton the team sports a hefty2.85 GAA and .897 SV%, certainly not statistics you would see on a Stanley Cup contender.
With rumors in Dallas leading to both Turco and Mike Ribeiro exiting the greater state of Texas, the cash strapped Stars may by default go into a full rebuild. Beleaguered defenseman Braydon Coburn may show some interest as well as other young trade chips Mika Pyorala, David Laliberte or Darroll Powe.
Unfortunately this is not an actual news story but simply one man’s bold prediction. Before you blast me for the headline, lets look at the facts so you can see my thought process.
The latest from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution states that the talks between the two are currently at a stand still. However, Kovalchuk went on record to state, “he would like to stay with the same team his whole career. However, he understands that hockey is a business.”
Yes Ilya, hockey is a business. You need to see that the business of the Atlanta Thrasher is Ilya Kovalchuk. This team lives and dies by the blade of his stick. The signings of Nik Antropov, Maxim Afinogenov as well as the acquisition of Pavel Kubina directly correlate to this team wanting to succeed with Kovalchuk.
So lets go over some facts. The consensus rumors cite Kovalchuk wanting the league maximum over a ten year span, a total he certainly deserves. By the CBA agreement, the maximum allows for 20 percent of the teams cap. As the cap currently stands at 56.8 million and looks to stay within that range with our booming economy, our Russian star stands to make at least 11.36 million a year.
By my calculations even if Kovalchuk does sign at this maximum contract at the maximum cap hit, the Thrashers boast over 20 million worth of cap dollars left on their budget. How many other teams can say they have this much room? Better yet, how many teams already have surrounded Kovy with teammates he thrives with due to both nationality and chemistry?
…with all that cap room?
With the loan of Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the NHL, the Capitals gained financial flexibility which should allow them to acquire some help in areas they deem necessary. As of this writing, the Caps 24 wins lead the League making the average fan ask: How can they possibly get better?
Corey Masisak of The Washington Times lists five speculative picks that would bolster this team as they prepare for a lengthy playoff campaign. As the team stands there is little need for improvement but one could make a case for another top defender.
As we know from our history watching the playoffs, depth is key. The team’s current construction has featured numerous players shifting up and down the teams forward lines as coach Bruce Boudreau dealt with injuries and juggling in order to find the proper mix. Still Masisak believes the most glaring need is this top defenseman. His solution: Scott Niedermayer.
Niedermayer currently captains the Anaheim Ducks and has lead them, as well as his former team the New Jersey Devils, to the Stanley Cup. In addition, this may be the last year in the NHL for the 36-year-old. Although he only has three goals on the season, he would become a powerful weapon on the Washington powerplay, something dreams are made of. He along with Mike Green would give them two elite puck-moving defensemen which would be incredibly dangerous for this already powerful offense.